Thursday, April 23, 2009

A DEEPER SOURCE FOR PROTEST & CHANGE

Objection to war and a passion for peace can come from a place of Christ-centeredness in the soul.

FEAR & PARTISANSHIP. I've been thinking again about conscientious objection, national and international security alternatives to militarism, and protests to war--whether pre-emptive war with Afghanistan, Iraq or war with any people. Objection to war can emerge from different places in the psyche or soul. Among others, fear and ideological partisanship are two prime sources. But neither of these are the places out of which the likes of 18th-century American Quaker John Woolman lived and articulated his objections to the accepted norms of his day--slave-holding, money lending, and wars on Native Americans.

A DIVINE CENTER. There is another place out of which challenges to accepted social compromises―even compromises mouthed by so-called Christian leadership―emerges. It is also a place out of which livable alternatives arise and strength to stand even amid the severest criticisms springs. It is, in the words of Thomas R. Kelly in A Testament of Devotion, a divine center, a sanctuary within, the Shekinah of the soul, the inner Light.

SENSITIZING BEFORE THE ALTAR. Kelly writes, "Woolman…resolved so to order his outward affairs, so to adjust his business burdens, that nothing, absolutely nothing would crowd out his prime attendance upon the Inward Principle. And in this sensitizing before the altar of his soul, he was quickened to see and attack effectively the evils" of his day.

SILENCES OF THE SOUL. "The value of Woolman and Fox and the Quakers of today for the world," Kelly writes, "does not lie in their outward deeds of service to suffering men, it lies in that the call to all men to the practice of orienting their entire being in inward adoration about the springs of immediacy and ever fresh divine power within the silences of the soul."

REJUDGING, RECREATING. "A practicing Christian," says Kelly, "must above all be one who practices the perpetual return of the soul to the inner sanctuary, who brings the world into its Light and rejudges it, who brings the Light into the world with all its turmoil and its fitfulness and recreates it (after the pattern seen on the Mount)."


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